The obvious next question is: Can Kentucky Derby winner Orb go on to sweep the Triple Crown races? The feat has been accomplished only 11 times and not since Affirmed took the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1978. Winning the Triple Crown is regarded as one of the toughest accomplishments in any sport.
“I think there’s still something there,” said winning trainer Shug McGaughey after Orb came charging through the Churchill Downs mud from near the back of the 19-horse field to win Saturday’s Derby by 2 1/2 lengths over Golden Soul.
“I think there’s more there. I don’t think we’ve bottomed out,” said the veteran conditioner who won his first Kentucky Derby after just six earlier tries. “I think he’s still learning how to run a little bit.”
Orb had not raced since winning the Florida Derby on March 30 — a five-week layoff. To wear the Triple Crown, he now will have to win three times in six weeks. The 1 3/16-miles Preakness, at Pimlico in Baltimore, is May 18. Then it’s on to Belmont Park for the 1 1/2-miles Belmont Stakes three weeks later.
“To tell you the truth, I can’t wait,” McGaughey said. “We’re set up better than anybody and, if everything is right, I can’t wait to get to the Preakness and do it again.”
Despite the sloppy track, the Derby worked out to be a relatively formful race. Orb was the post-time favorite. Golden Soul was a longshot second but the third- and fourth-place finishers, Revolutionary and Normandy Invasion, were both well-backed.
The biggest flop in the race was previously undefeated Verrazano, who finished fourteenth after racing near the quick early pace. Jockey John Velazquez, who rode Orb to victory in the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby, then picked Verrazano for his Derby ride, said his mount did not handle the muddy track.
Joel Rosario, the jockey who benefited from Velazquez’s mistake, already has a memorable year going even with two-thirds of the Triple Crown still in front of him. Rosario rode Animal Kingdom to victory March 30 in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, then returned to be the leading riding at Keeneland’s spring meeting.
It was Rosario’s first Kentucky Derby win and also the first for owners Stuart Janney and Ogden Mills Phipps.
The field for the Preakness will be a lot different than the Derby line-up.
Trainer Dallas Stewart said Golden Soul is unlikely to be in Baltimore. “At this point, I think we will pass on the Preakness and look at the Belmont,” Stewart said Sunday morning. “That would give us five weeks and hopefully we can get one of the three” Triple Crown wins.
Todd Pletcher, who saddled five starters Saturday, said his initial consultation with the owners left him feeling both Revolutionary and Overanalyze, who finished 11th in the Derby, also will skip the Preakness and target the Belmont. As for Verrazano, he added, “We’ll step back with him, too, and make a plan at some point.”
Chad Brown said he is already thinking about the Gr1 Travers at Saratoga, the “Mid-summer Derby,” for Normandy Invasion. “I don’t know what I’ll do between now and then,” he added. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said his two Derby starters, Oxbow (6th in Derby) and Will Take Charge (8th), are both Preakness candidates.
One of the more interesting contenders at “Old Hilltop” in Baltimore may be Lines of Battle, the Irish-trained horse who won the UAE Derby on World Cup night over the Meydan all-weather course and finished a sharp-closing seventh on Saturday for trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore.
O’Brien assistant T.J. Comerford noted Lines of Battle is bred for dirt racing but was making his first start on the surface in the Run for the Roses. “He was a little bit like a 2yo with his first start,” Comerford said. “There was no time after Dubai to run on dirt and you hate to use the Kentucky Derby as a prep.” He said O’Brien may consider the Preakness but the Belmont “may be more of a consideration.” Other Derby starters likely for the Preakness as of Sunday morning are Itsmyluckyday (15th) and Goldencents (17th).
Meanwhile – there was a nice Epsom Derby prep for Godolphin Racing, which undoubtedly welcomed good news. Milers were on display in Hong Kong and in Japan. A roughly run Kentucky Oaks produced an upset winner. And the reigning U.S. Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, was an easy winner on the Churchill Downs Derby Day undercard when his chief rival, Point of Entry, was a late scratch.
Derby Day stakes
Wise Dan Wins US Gr1 Woodford Reserve – In another of Churchill Downs’ Gr1 events in the US, reigning US Horse of the Year, 6YO gelding Wise Dan (Wiseman’s Ferry-Lisa Danielle, by Wolf Power) continued his imperious march by making it 6 straight (and 9 of his last 10 starts) when romping to a 4.25-lengths victory for trainer Charlie LoPresti in the US$546,400 Gr1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (9 furlongs) for 4YOs+. He finished ahead of 4YO entire Optimizer (English Channel-Indy Pick, by A P Indy) & 5YO gelding Middie (Officer-Sweettrickydancer, by Green Dancer). Wise Dan took his record to 15 wins (including his previous 4 Gr1 races: Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Mile, Keeneland’s Turf Mile and the Woodbine Mile Stakes) & a runner-up (in the Gr1 Stephen Foster Handicap) from 21 starts.
Aubby K Wins Gr1 Humana Distaff – At Churchill Downs in the US, Darley’s 2006 Champion 2YO Colt & 2007 Gr1 Kentucky Derby-winning shuttler Street Sense (Street Cry-Bedazzle, by Dixieland Band) celebrated a Gr1 triumph when 4YO mare Aubby’s K (Street Sense-Lilly Capote, by Capote) scored a 1.5-lengths victory for trainer R.Nicks in the US$345,000 Gr1 Humana Distaff Handicap (7 furlongs) for females 4YO+, over 5YO mare Burban (Speightstown-Horse B With You, by Slewdledo) & fellow 4YO mare Holiday Soiree (Harlan’s Holiday-Try To Remember, by Include). Winner last time out in the Gr2 Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Aubby K took her record to 4 wins & a placing (including Belmont’s Gr1 Acorn Stakes) from 8 starts.
Princess Of Sylmar Wins US Gr1 Kentucky Oaks – Causing a major upset, at Churchill Downs in the US the filly Princess Of Sylmar (Majestic Warrior-Storm Dixie, by Catienus) scored a half-length win in the US$1 million Gr1 Kentucky Oaks (9 furlongs) for 3YO fillies, over fellow fillies Beholder (Henny Hughes-Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek) & Unlimited Budget (Street Sense-Unlimited Pleasure, by Valid Appeal). Princess Of Sylmar took her record to 5 wins (also including the Listed Busher Stakes & Listed Busanda Stakes – both at Aqueduct) & a runner-up (in last start’s Gr2 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct) from 7 starts. Although trainer Todd Pletcher book-ended the placings, it was bitter-sweet for the stable with hot favourite Dreaming Of Julia striking trouble in running and finishing fourth.
Dawn Approach Wins UK Gr1 2000 Guineas – At Newmarket in the UK, multiple Gr1-winning Darley stallion New Approach (Galileo-Park Express, by Ahonoora) celebrated a Gr1 triumph when last season’s unbeaten 2YO & now 3YO colt Dawn Approach (New Approach-Hymn of the Dawn, by Phone Trick) smashed his rivals with a stunning 5-lengths victory for trainer Jim Bolger in the £400,000 Gr1 2000 Guineas (1600m) for 3YO colts, over fellow colts Glory Awaits (Choisir-Sandbox Two, by Foxhound) & Van De Neer (Dutch Art-Lalectra, by King Charlemagne). Unbeaten in 6 career starts, half Godolphin-owned Dawn Approach last season marched unchecked through the UK’s elite juvenile events, taking both the Gr1 National Stakes & Gr1 Dewhurst Stakes, as well as the Gr2 Coventry Stakes. His record now stands at 7 wins from 7 starts for £587,934 earnings. Following the victory celebrations, trainer Jim Bolger suggested the English Derby could be next for Dawn Approach, commenting: “He was very impressive. Sheikh Mohammed agreed we would sleep on it and talk about it in a few days but we wouldn’t be ruling anything in or anything out. I would be very happy to go but we have to see how he comes out of this. He’s hardy and I’m sure he’ll come out of it well.”
Sky Lantern Wins UK Gr1 1000 Guineas – In Sunday’s Gr1 1,000 Guineas for 3yo fillies, deceased Gr1-winning & multiple Gr1-placed freshman stallion & 2007 Cartier Champion European Sprinter Red Clubs (Red Ransom-Two Clubs, by First Trump) added a Gr1 victory when the filly Sky Lantern (Red Clubs-Shawanni, by Shareef Dancer) scored by a half-length for trainer Richard Hannon in the £400,000 Gr1 1000 Guineas, over fellow fillies Just The Judge (Lawman-Faraday Light, by Rainbow Quest) & Moth (Galileo-Pieds De Plume, by Seattle Slew). Sky Lantern took her record to 4 wins (also including the Gr1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh as a 2YO) & 3 placings (including runners-up in the Gr3 Neil Gwyn Stakes, Gr3 Prestige Stakes & Gr3 Sweet Solara Stakes) from 7 starts for £415,877 earnings.
Dan Excel Wins Hong Kong Gr1 Champions Mile – At Sha Tin, European champion 4-time Gr1-winning former Darley shuttler Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway-Helsinki, by Machiavellian) added a Gr1 success when Irish-bred 5YO gelding Dan Excel (Shamardal-Love Excelling, by Polish Precedent) scored by a short-head for trainer John Moore in the HK$12m Gr1 Champions Mile (1600m) for 3YOs+, over fellow Irish-bred 6YO gelding Helene Spirit (Footstepsinthesand-Arazena, by Woodman) & 5YO gelding Packing Whiz (Trade Fair-Swizzle, by Efisio). Dan Excel took his record to 5 wins (including 2011’s Gr3 Irish 2,000 Guineas Trial and 2010’s Gr3 Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh) & 8 placings (including 2nd in 2013’s Gr1 Stewards’ Cup over 1600m at Sha Tin) from 26 starts.
Meiner Ho O Wins Japan Gr1 NHK Mile Cup – At Tokyo’s racecourse in Japan, the colt Meiner Ho O (Suzuka Phoenix-Tenzan Rose, by French Deputy) scored by a neck for trainer H. Hatakeyama in the ¥180 million Gr1 NHK Mile Cup (1600m) for 3YOs, over fellow colts Impulse Hero (Kurofune-Classical Taste, by Sunday Silence) & Flamme De Gloire (Daiwa Major-Silk Prima Donna, by Brian’s Time). Meiner Ho O went to the post at odds of 34-1 after a seventh-place finish in the New Zealand Trophy in his last previous outing and took his record to 4 wins & 3 placings (including March’s Gr2 Fuji TV Sho Spring Stakes at Nakayama) from 10 starts.